Mayor addresses museum, roads, cleanup at marinas

Here are the speaking points for Mayor A.J. Holloway’s presentation at “Breakfast with the Mayor,” a Biloxi Chamber-sponsored event that took place June 13, 2007, at Edgewater Mall’s Food Court.

• I’m encouraged by what I heard at the City Council meeting yesterday regarding the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum. I was a supporter of this museum back in the days before I was elected to the City Council, and I still appreciate the importance of our history and our culture. But I realize that when you spend public money on this large a scale you need to proceed cautiously and have checks and balances in place.

• There also were a couple of other important issues that the City Council acted on Tuesday that I wanted to make sure you knew about.

• With the success that we’ve seen with construction management on Popp’s Ferry, Back Bay Boulevard and Caillavet Street, we received council approval to use the process on five new projects. Popp’s Ferry Road widening, where we’re doing appraisals, and to oversee widening and improvements on Brodie, Brashier and Veterans, and improvements on Howard Avenue. That’s more than $10 million worth of work in improvements to major thoroughfares.

• Another issue I was glad to get moving was the contracts for the clearing of submerged debris at the city’s three harbors and marinas, as well as at the Lighthouse Docks on Back Bay. Debris removal will begin within a week and should take about 45 days. It’s going to cost around $150,000, and the price could go up, depending on what we find under the water. Once all of the debris has been removed, we’ll be ready to begin dredging the harbors and marinas.

• The gaming industry continues to show robust numbers. Seven of the past eight months have set records in one way or another. We’ll have the May figures in a couple of days. Meantime, Hard Rock remains on track for its soft opening on the Fourth of July weekend, and Treasure Bay continues to move forward.

• In fact, the Hard Rock and Treasure Bay work is only a fraction of the work you’re seeing along Highway 90. We have two lighting projects underway – from White Avenue to St. George and from Rodenberg to Beauvoir – and MDOT is continuing to work on the wiring for lighting at the I-110 loop and on the bridge itself.

• The Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge remains ahead of schedule. The target date is Nov. 13, but as many of you know there’s an election the week before that, so we think we’re going to see the bridge open before the election.

• On Caillavet Street, contractors are now clearing up the city property on the east side of the street, which they were using as a staging area for equipment and materials. We’re reappraising that property and we’ll begin marketing it for sale. Since this is an urban renewal project, anyone interested will have to come forward with specific plans. I’d like to see retail, restaurants, townhomes and the like. In fact, what you’re going to see on Caillavet Street is this thing called “smart growth,” which I remind you, is something we were doing before the storm.

• Those are the highlights, and those are only a few of the projects we’re working. I appreciate the patience and kind words from all of you, and I’m proud of the way everyone in this city continues to make progress.